Shisha was originally just a synonym for water pipe. Outside of the Middle East, people usually refer to this pipe as a hookah, and shorten the phrase "shisha cigarettes" to simply "shisha". You don't need to know the history of the word to start enjoying smoking shisha, but you do need to study the information in this article.
Part 1 of 3: Setting up the Hookah
Step 1. Learn how the hookah works
The basic overview here will help you follow the process. The words in bold describe the main parts of the hookah.
- Bowl at the top is a place to hold shisha cigarettes. On top of this bowl will be placed hot charcoal.
- The air sucked in through the hookah will warm the charcoal, burn the tobacco, and lower the smoke through the channel main.
- The smoke will then leave stem at the end of the channel, and go to section base hookah made of glass.
- This smoke then passes through the water and air at the bottom of the pipe where it becomes cooler and dissolves.
- The smoke will also pass slang and into the lungs.
Step 2. Clean the hookah
Cleaning before the first use as well as after each smoking session will keep the taste of cigarette smoke from mixing. Wash all components with soapy water, except the hose. Most hoses will rust or rot when wet.
Clean the glass components with warm or cold water. Hot water can crack glass
Step 3. Pour water over the bottom
Look and notice where the stem ends. Now, remove the stem and pour cold water directly over the bottom. When reinstalling, the ends of the rods should be 2.5 cm below the water level.
Too much water can be sucked into the hose and destroy it. Always leave a layer of air at the top of the hookah
Step 4. Install the hookah
Attach the rod to the bottom, inserting the hose into the hole on the side of the rod. Each connection must have a rubber "grommet" to keep the hose airtight. Check the joint between the bowl and the top of the stem as well, then temporarily remove the hookah bowl.
Install all hoses, even if you are only going to use one. This way, the hookah rod will still be tightly closed
Step 5. Test the airflow
Place your hand on the rod and block the entire hole. Try breathing in through one of the tubes. If there is a rather large ripple, this means the hookah has a leak. Double check all the connections and adjust:
- If a grommet doesn't fit, wet it and try putting it back on.
- If the connection between the rod and the bottom of the hookah is not airtight, wrap the rod with masking tape. Add several layers of tape until the rod remains easy to remove but adheres firmly.
- If any other joints don't fit properly, wrap them in aluminum sheet or wet paper towels. If you use damp paper near a hose, remember to dry it immediately after smoking.
Part 2 of 3: Enjoying Shisha
Step 1. Drizzle the shisha slowly into the bowl
Open the shisha container and stir the contents until the tobacco is damp and there are no lumps. Spread the pinches in the bowl and try not to clog the holes in the bowl. Add more until the bowl is full. Press very slowly to make an even layer. If you press the shisha too hard, the shisha will have a hard time absorbing air.
If you see a tobacco stick, take it. If the shisha has too many sticks, pour it onto a plate and clean all the stems, then return the shisha to the bowl on the hookah
Step 2. Cover the bowl with a barrier or aluminum sheet
The hookah may have a screen or glass valve over the bowl – if it does, you don't need any extra preparation. Most experienced smokers choose to replace this valve with a strong aluminum sheet, which reduces the risk of overheating and is easy to control. Spread the sheet over the bowl, and gently tug on the opposite edges to make the sheet as tight as possible. Once tight, gently pull back all the sides to make sure the sheet surface is even and neat. Secure the sides.
- Make sure the shisha is low enough so it doesn't touch the sheet or the cigarette you smoke will burn.
- If you don't have a strong aluminum sheet, use two layers of regular thin aluminum sheet.
Step 3. Make holes in the sheet
More holes (or bigger holes) means more hot air will flow through your shisha. Experiment to find a balance between getting enough smoke while still avoiding overly strong and hot shisha. Here are some guides to get started:
- Start with 15 holes if you make them with a toothpick or paperclip. If you only have a ballpoint pen or charcoal tongs, make 4-7 holes as they are larger.
- For a round bowl, start punching holes around the outer edges and spiral inward. For a donut-shaped bowl, make three balanced circles between the inner and outer edges.
- Add more holes only if there is not enough smoke. Some people like 50 pinholes or more, especially when they smoke sticky solid tobacco.
Step 4. Light some charcoal
Charcoal and hookah bowls come in a variety of sizes. A standard bowl requires two medium charcoals, but you can actually use less or 1 part more if it doesn't produce as much smoke as you'd like. Always use self-igniting smoke-free charcoal, never use charcoal briquettes or anything that requires liquid fuel; charcoal like this can poison you. There are two types of charcoal suitable for hookahs. Handle both with small tongs on a non-combustible surface, and ignite them in the following manner:
- Fast-flaming charcoal will burn within 10-30 seconds of being exposed to a fire. After the charcoal stops burning, let it burn until it becomes white ash. Then, blow it until it glows orange.
- Natural charcoal has less risk of adding strong flavours, burning shisha, making you dizzy. Turn it on an electric stove or over a low flame until it glows orange (for about ten minutes). Blow out the charcoal and turn it once while burning to heat it evenly (avoid glass stoves and gas stoves, as dust from the charcoal may fall and enter the gas line).
Step 5. Heat the bowl
Attach the bowl to the top of the stem. Place the hot coals on top of the aluminum sheet, near the edges. Set the distance for each to be the same. For best results, heat the shisha a few minutes before you start.
Step 6. Smoke slowly
Inhale through the tube with a full breath, but do so at a normal pace. Strong pulling will only heat the shisha so that the burning taste is more pronounced. To avoid overheating and "hookah hangover" when you're just starting out, wait a minute or two between each breath. The following tips will also help you avoid unpleasant reactions to nicotine:
- Drink plenty of water before starting. Drink water or mint tea while smoking to keep your mouth moist. Otherwise, the smoke will not be felt.
- Eat light snacks like bread and dried fruit while you smoke.
- Limit yourself to a maximum of one bowl a day if you are a beginner.
- Avoid exercising right before and after smoking.
Step 7. Adjust the heat
Most bowls last 30-45 minutes, but the quality of the smoke will drop earlier if you smoke too fast, or the utensils are of poor quality, or you're just out of luck. The adjustments below help heat the shisha slowly and evenly so you can maximize your experience:
- Move the charcoal every 10-15 minutes. Tap with tongs to let the ashes fall off, then turn over the side attached to the aluminum sheet.
- If smoke comes out of the bowl before you inhale, remove the charcoal and allow the hookah to cool.
Part 3 of 3: Trying New Techniques
Step 1. Change the water temperature
Compare smoke to cold water and ice cubes to smoke to warm water. Most people prefer cold water, but warm water can filter out hard particles more effectively, so everyone's opinion will differ. Follow your own taste.
Step 2. Add more fills to the base
To explore new flavors, add fruit juice, grapes, frozen fruit, flavor extract, or mint to the water. If you're using a liquid (other than the extract, which only takes a few drops), you can use either method, starting with just a little sprinkling or completely replacing the entire water with the liquid.
- Milk and fizzy drinks tend to bubble up, blocking the hose and leaving a permanent odor. Let the fizzy drink cool down before using it. If you want to try milk, use only a small amount and mix it with water.
- Never drink or eat the contents of the tube. The filter may contain a large number of hazardous chemicals.
- Always clean the hookah thoroughly after you use it with anything other than water.
Step 3. Try different shishas
Shisha has many flavors, and these flavors are just a matter of personal preference. You can also tell how a substance will burn by its consistency:
- Tobacco-free herbs. This foliage is a great place for novice smokers, because the herb does not contain nicotine and is difficult to burn. However, herbs won't last very long, so use less charcoal (or place it farther away from the center).
- Shisha with a "crushed" appearance is the most basic breed. Smoke according to the instructions in the previous sections.
- Shishas with a sticky, "porridge" appearance may require larger charcoal or a longer heating time before they are ready to smoke. Once heated, the smoke will be thick and comfortable.
- Leafier tobacco usually produces a stronger flavor. Many of these tobaccos (eg Tangiers or Nakhla) are unique specialty products. Ask an experienced hookah fan for advice or seek more specific guidance.
Step 4. Change the charcoal brand
Most novice hookah smokers start with quick-burning charcoal. Once you become a hookah hobbyist, try replacing it with natural charcoal. This charcoal can be made from lemon wood, coconut husk, bamboo, and other materials, each with its own taste.
Step 5. Try different equipment
Experienced hookah smokers usually try to find the right combination of equipment, shisha, and techniques to produce smoke they will like. Since there's no right answer for this, talk to other hookah lovers in your community or online. They can suggest specific brands and types of bowls/hookahs based on the type of shisha and your preferred smoking experience.
- Don't pack the shisa too tightly or the shisha may lose its flavor, unless you have a vortex bowl.
- Consider burning the aluminum sheet with a lighter to remove the aluminum oxide layer. Light a fire underneath until the smoke stops rising. However, be careful that you don't get burned!
- Charcoal can get very hot. Always use tongs to hold it and avoid flammable objects.
- Smoking through a hookah exposes you to nicotine and other harmful chemicals, just like smoking any other way. Better leave.